Tag: Florida

Sharkskin, or Shark Sin?

Guest Commentary by Tom “Lemonade” Teasdale

Scientific Anglers SharkskinIt is no secret that 3M is one of the largest corporations in America today. They make everything from the tape we wrap our holiday gifts with to aerospace polymers used to build stealth fighters. Such a large corporation is ultimately responsible to its shareholders to create value, however, one of their subsidiaries, Scientific Anglers, has crossed the line in its senseless pursuit of profit.

SA has always been a heavy hitter in the fly line and accessory market, and a few years back, as some of you may remember, they introduced a revolutionary new fly line dubbed “Sharkskin”. Like most of you, I originally loved this fly line – it flew further, floated higher, and mended better than any product before it. I wanted to throw 160-foot casts in a single haul, stack mends in a line that would float like a body in the Hudson.

But ask yourself this, my fly-fishing amigos: At what cost..(insert heart-felt fist pump and single tear down cheek here)..AT WHAT COST?! Faced with this lust, none of us asked where this technology and “new” material came from, and I must now admit that my want for distance combined with perpetually dry tips blinded my conservationist heart.

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One part trolling motor and three parts wind equals twelve parts flyline

Fly-fishing is about ambiguity: when you start the day you’re never 100% sure what to throw, but almost 1% certain what nature will throw back. If you tear the place apart it’s guaranteed that you’ll stretch the truth far beyond your success, and if you don’t you’ll pull numerous excuses out of inventory. Reaching the pinnacle of the sport, however, is just art: spend more time changing flies than casting them, catch three times as many fish as you thought you would, tell everyone you caught ten times that amount, and still reason you should have knocked down 100X if not for an equipment failure that was a direct result of changing flies so often (but that you blame on the wind).

Confused? If you are only half as much as the author you are doing well – twice as much all the better.

Fishing the flats of northeast Florida in the spring has its advantages – the water is warming and the fish are hungry. Expect rivers of grass when the tide is high, and several feet of exposed oyster beds at its low. The redfish are generally smaller (translation: significantly dumber) than they are in say Louisiana, so presentation can be relegated to afterthought. And of course you are not at work.

The downside is the weather is unpredictable. If you fish in the summer you can be sure it will rain like hell from three to five, but the rest of the time skies should be clear. During spring the wind blows hard when the weatherman (translation: teleprompter output interpreter) say it’ll be four knots, so you best bring your 10’er because they are usually off the mark by an equal factor .

Your boat will spin around a lot in this wind, so leave the pole at home and get the trolling motor battery charged. A clean flyline (new if you can swing it) will give you a slight advantage – just don’t leave it lying on the water while you are changing flies for the umpteenth time. A Motorguide running full bore combined with a flailing boat (along with a fly angler paying attention to his flybox beef jerky supplies) can spell catastrophe. Your wallet will thank you for this sage advice. Please trust me on this one.

Small craft advisory and shredded flyline notwithstanding, you should catch quite a few fish. If you’ve spent the last month and a half in Florida [insert excuse here -> after the coldest temps the state has seen in three decades] and only have a handful of sea trout to show for it, this will come as welcome relief. A bottom-of-the-ninth performance may not get you a Fly Rod & Reel cover story, but it will save you another trip to Publix’s fresh fish counter.

Assuming you get the cooler past the dockside pelican guards.

MG signing off (pending return to higher altitude)

Recollect. Rinse. Repeat.

When I was young (a long long time ago) I was let loose each day to explore. No organized outing, no “play date”. Just be home for dinner.

Maybe.

Those adventures inevitably brought me to the water. Any water would do.

I quit the soccer team so I could accompany a buddy on after school fishing outings. To a lake teeming with gar. Nobody believed we were catching such big ones so we brought some back, tied by their tails to pieces of rope. Dragged behind our BMX bikes.

Behavior unrepresentative of the catch and release mantra I now embrace. Yet I will never be able to erase those memories.

Nor would I want to, because I am occasioned the opportunity to revisit.

Foot-powered modes of transport have been replaced by crew-cabbed V8s. Shakespeare combos have been upgraded, and fly boxes are no longer spartan. Plenty of self-perceived experience now in tow.

Yet the quest for the Ditch Grand Slam – a grass carp, a mudfish, and a bass on a single outing – meets adversity. The previous night’s wild thunderstorm flows off the banks. Blows around at 30 mph.

And then there are the alligators. Always those pesky alligators.

The chase for the cup continues. As it has, and will.

For as long as I can remember.

Sea trout, the other brown meat

Low and behold, I’m spending my winter/spring transition in the salt. Captain James “Grand Poobah” Snyder (a.k.a. Commander-In-Chief, Primal Fly South), is my host. Before we begin I’ll note for the record that the ambiance down here is first-class through and through (or maybe GP and his sidekick Sissy “The Brains AND the Beauty” Sessanna are just happy I do my own dishes). Either way, it’s nothing but a steaming pile of tasty Sunshine State goodness. And the weather ain’t too shabby either.

The first week was filled with nothing but work, and despite a holiday shortened week Friday was welcomed with open arms. Then this morning we embarked on a critical first mission: find out if all the fish in Tampa Bay were killed by last month’s cold snap. We are now happy to report they were not. While we didn’t spot any “spots” all day, we did have a couple hour period around the tide change where we chalked up some serious sea trout counts. Adding to the fun – the boats around us weren’t even snagging debris, and at least one of our crew (cough cough) was throwing flies to boot.

Yes, the previously mentioned devout fly tosser is yours truly. Even sadder than it seems, Captain Snyder (a.a.k.a. Trout Lichtenstein) has gone from slaying the freshwater derivative of Salmo trutta morpha trutta with a fine 4-weight and size 20 Jujubaetis to slinging jig-headed plastic with something called a “spinning rod.” I watched this wretched device in action with my own two eyes – while it can be used to catch fish I find the methodology uncivilized…actually borderline criminal. The fish I caught were generally smaller, and I did mar up Captain “Should I Stop For Some Live Shrimp Before We Hit The Ramp” Snyder’s boat deck with my dry-rotted wading booties. Nevertheless, my heart remains pure.

Tune in next week, where we debate whether the stuff Captain James “My Boat Is Pink…How Bout That Bitches” Snyder coats on his plastics before each and every cast is called Lunker Lotion, Bottled Bait Breath, or just plain ol’ cheating.

MG signing off (to keep casting flies, like a good boy should)

If Everglades management isn’t broken then don’t fix it

An eighteen month plus study into new ways to manage resources in the Everglades National Park watershed (emphasis: Florida Bay and the Gulf Coast from Ten Thousand Islands to Flamingo) has been completed, and alternatives are now on the table.

Propeller scarring on sea grass seems to be one of the (if not THE) major concern which led to the proposed usage changes:

propellerscarring

I personally feel that anyone who scoots across less that a foot of water with their prop down has serious deficiencies in the mental department, and deserves to shear pins and be exempt from a tow. Pole your ass all the way home if you’re going to be that stupid. When you are on the water with professional guides, they are quick to point out the issue, and generally express the the same feeling I do. Navigable channels are already pretty well marked, and those tearing ass across the skinny aren’t doing much besides getting to their hot spot a minute earlier (and probably spooking a lot of fish by not throttling down sooner too).

Alternatives #3 (PDF) and #4 (PDF) of the proposal would significantly limit the accessibility of area to sportfishing, with some routes in and out of prime fishing zones almost obliterated from Tavenier to Layton (they’d be troll and pole only) under #4. Most of the restriction would be determined by water depth too, a barrier difficult (if not impossible) to enforce with the shifting tides. Either would have a huge impact on the local economies, which rely heavily on unabated use of the area.

Common to all proposals – essentially manage as is…

  • Improve national park boundary marking, channel marking, and navigational aids including recommended channel network and transit corridors/routes in Florida Bay.
  • Continue current management of Florida Bay keys; to protect nesting and rookery areas, all keys remain closed to recreational use except North Nest, Little Rabbit, Carl Ross, and Bradley keys.
  • Establish a seagrass restoration program for submerged marine wilderness resources and sites/areas damaged by groundings and propeller scarring.
  • Approach resource management from an ecosystem perspective, considering outside influences (e.g., Everglades restoration efforts, climate change, and socioeconomic considerations) on resources and ecosystem processes.
  • Also…implement the approved Flamingo Commercial Services Plan, including:

  • Rebuilding Flamingo facilities — an elevated lodge, elevated cottages, ecotents, RV campground with electric hookups, houseboats, and two backcountry camping platforms or chickees in Florida Bay — in a sustainable manner.
  • Provide increased education and recreational opportunities based out of Flamingo.
  • Provide additional land- and water-based transportation options at Flamingo, including circulator shuttle, bicycles, canoes and kayaks, and land and water trails.
  • Establish new, long-term concession contract for Flamingo.

Alternative #1 takes all the above into account – continued prudent management and some enhancement to facilities, but without further restrictions on use. I wouldn’t be opposed to adding some simple sea grass awareness and/or backcountry education requirement to the mix either – I don’t think USCG captains need it (at least not the ones I’ve hung around), but I’m certain a lot of other folks who venture into the area do. And while Alternative #2 does not add abhorrent navigation restrictions, it does implement a measure of pole/troll and/or paddle only zoning that I believe is going to be more trouble enforcing than it’s worth.

As far as I’m concerned, it’s all backcountry once you leave the dock. You shouldn’t set sail if you don’t know what you are doing, and I’m always going to be skeptical of any proposal that restricts the activities of many because of the mistakes of a few.

Man invented the four-stroke high output. But God invented the poling platform.

MG signing off (to hit the flats with the prop up)

Editor’s note: Thanks first to Tim ‘Fishman’ Emery for pointing this out a few days back. Also, the entire GMP/East Everglades Wildnerness Study is available here (big PDF). Review at your leisure, and please feel free to set me straight if I’ve missed anything here.

Fly fishing history is being rewritten, in a ditch

fishingjonesPete McDonald follows up on the WSJ brownlining hoopla with some tasty tidbits out of the great state of Florida:

Before brownlining there was ditch fishing. The concept of casting flies in less than pristine settings goes back decades. In Florida, many well known fly fishing luminaries and pioneers cut their teeth fishing the Everglades and the vast network of man-made backwater canals that carve up the southern tier of the state.

It is well documented that anglers such as Flip Pallot, Chico Fernandez, and Norman Duncan–who invented the Duncan Loop (uni knot)–took to these unglamorous stretches in search of snook, baby tarpon, and largemouth bass on foot while growing up in South Florida in the 1950s.

It’s honest to goodness real journalism (which frankly makes me wonder how long Fishing Jones is really going to last) so read the whole thing before it’s copyright as part of some Hemingway memoir.

Around the world in nine links flat – 03/05/09

World MapTechnology

  • Surprise – cyber-crooks are targeting Facebook. This is like shooting fish in a barrel, but Facebook participants won’t understand that until it’s too late. They are busy throwing up pages in a vain attempt to garner attention, and have to figure out that the barrel is already too big first.
  • Speaking of social networks, you only have five core friends anyway. The rest are, I guess, ‘fake friends’.
  • But if you still think you have more friends than that, Yahoo! is on their way to helping you stay caught up with them. It’s a collaboration with JS-Kit for access everywhere.

Finance

  • Everyone who disagrees with the present administration’s economic policies is now evil, at least in the eyes of Paul Krugman. Greg Mankiw is willing to bet hard money that the GDP forecasts being floated to justify the massive spending are, for the most part, bunk. Will Vegas take side bets?
  • The Fed is not only bailing out ‘unfortunate’ homeowners – now that third mortgages for widescreen TVs are passe, they are going to start funding credit card balances instead.
  • And just in case anyone is still wondering where the financial world is headed, let’s ask the world’s presently most popular prognosticator, Nouriel Roubini: Mr. Roubini, what say ye? The U.S. financial system is effectively insolvent. Ok, got it.

Fly Fishing

  • Science folks speculate that hunting trophies leads to smaller fish. There’s a lot of killing mentioned, which leads me to believe the studies may be funded by PETA. Meanwhile, down in the Keys, it’s long been known that the biggest bonefish reside in Islamorada specifically because so many trophy fish are released there during tournaments.
  • Speaking of Florida, high-income earners aren’t the only one’s who may be seeing tax hikes. Guides have long had an exemption from sales tax, but the state legislature is discussing a change to that. Ron Brooks notes (correctly) that not only will guide/charter fishing rates go up, but the bookkeeping will add additional burden to an already very hard working group of folks.
  • And finally…

  • The Roughfisher is ready for spring – it’s just that spring isn’t ready for him. Spring has been in and out of Colorado for weeks – we’d weep for the rough dude, but we’re too busy fishing. I’m not being spiteful, really I’m not.

Adieu.

Florida crocs go magnetic – fly fishing world sniffs opportunity

Crocodile magnetFrom the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission :

Crocodile-human interactions have increased as the crocodile population has recovered. One technique to resolve these conflicts is translocation. This involves capturing the crocodile and moving it to suitable crocodile habitat as far away as possible, in an attempt to keep it away from an area. However, translocation is seldom effective. FWC biologists have found that translocated crocodiles will travel an average of 10 miles per week to return to their capture site, in a practice called “homing.” Others never make it because they are hit and killed by vehicles as they cross roads. Some may be killed by other crocodiles at the release site or during their journey back.

In an effort to break the “homing” cycle, FWC biologists have initiated a new study. Crocodile agents have been instructed to attach magnets to both sides of the crocodile’s head at the capture site. It is hoped the magnets will disorient the crocodiles and disrupt their navigation, so they can’t find their way back to the capture site. The magnets are removed from the crocodile’s head upon release. Agents will also secure a colored tag to the crocodile’s tail, so returning crocodiles can be identified later.

The reality is there is always some kind of toothy creature problem threatening the otherwise mundane lives of South Floridians – if it’s not the crocs, it’s the alligators, or snakes, or the sea trout (they are not actually a problem, unless you are low on flies). This is just one more example of the government not telling you like it is, as this intrepid reporter found out when he buzzed Flip Pallot for a statement:

No comment. But Gracie, you are a fine American.*

Something strange is afoot at the Circle K, and since fly fishers are the most grounded in the true nature of all things conspiratorial, I’m betting they smell a tourist trap. If you start seeing local fly guides advertising ‘Florida’s Ultimate Brownlining Adventure’ you’ll know they are working on a grant program.

Meanwhile, someone please send Pete McDonald some titanium hooks – he spends way too much time in those backwater canals for his own good. (h/t Slashdot)

Editor’s note: Half the quote from Flip Pallot was in fact taken from real life circumstances. While fishing Indian River, we bumped into him right after he’d been busted for speeding in a new Hell’s Bay skiff during a promotional shoot. Back at the takeout his trailer winch went on the fritz (guess it wasn’t his day), and we provided the tools to get ‘er back in business. Hence, we were deemed “fine Americans.”

And if that constitutes my fifteen minutes, I’m in deep trouble. Need. Better. Fishing. Stories!

Happy Holidays (and headline hoopla)

Cheer and good tidings first; light reading last

  • Charlie Crist calls for an investigation of “Florida’s subprime-tainted fund.” It’s really a SIV tainted fund and a sub-prime tainted SIV, but I’ll spare you the details. More on the Florida Fund fiasco here, here, and here.
  • Research In Motion: no slowdown. Is it a consumer thing? Personally, I’m very happy with my Blackberry, although I consider it a business tool.
  • Myspace. Facebook. Go WordPress!? This may sound a little outlandish now, but the open source blogging application has the install base and the development community to really put a hurting on the “traditional” fare.
  • A Home Price Heat Map, compliments of Stephen Heise. Data runs from 1975 to Q3-2007. Very interesting – hit the pause button along the way.
  • A reminder: next time you look into that camera someone might be recording the color of your eyes, among other things.

Again, happy holidays!

Florida Fund Meltdown: Bad To Worse

Actually, it started off horrible, then things started looking up. Now disclosure questions are making things look bad again.